Taking an Open-Source Approach to Tackling Youth Unemployment
April 18, 2014 | 2103 views
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With alarming rates of youth unemployment globally it was encouraging to see a standing-room only session during Friday’s lunchtime workshop on Solving the Global Youth Unemployment Crisis facilitated by Nik Kafka (Teach a Man to Fish.)
Looking at the situation in the UK the youth unemployment situation is a complex one. On the one hand we are facing youth unemployment levels close to 1 million, yet an increasing number of employers are complaining of an inability to fill job vacancies. The mismatch of skills and lack of preparedness for the world of work points to a failure in our education system and the need to radically rethink the way we prepare young people for work and the role employers can play in this.
We have institutions in place that guide young people through their formative years – hold their hands through examinations, through certificates, through the cornerstones that make up how they learn. But once out in the ‘real’ world, there is no support. There is no backbone to rest on, no more tailored advice, or pointers as to what to do next, instead there is just the chaos of grappling for increasingly scant graduate schemes, the worried scramble for reputable internships, the endless, endless sending out of CVs to harassed hiring managers, who don’t have the time or the inclination to train up a young person waiting for their ‘real’ lives to start.
This, to me, isn’t just unfair – it is a total and utter waste of potential. As of 2011, obligatory careers advice was removed from the national curriculum. What could be more important to a young person than what they are going to do with the rest of their lives? How can these young people know what direction to push, when the options were never really explained to them to begin with?
Meanwhile, in a different landscape, on a more digitised horizon, something has started to change. With the recent boom in online learning via Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the endless learning possibilities that the web can offer, the power is starting to shift. We no longer have to rely on our educational institutions to provide us with learning tools. If anything, the more exciting possibilities are starting to exist outside university walls.
There is now the opportunity for employers to take greater ownership in preparing the talent it is looking to hire. Companies have at their disposal learning materials but guard these behind corporate intranets; they have insights into the skills they require but often keep this knowledge to themselves. What would happen if we adopted a more open-source approach to learning, development and hiring? Instead of guarding training materials why not make it openly available to candidates to interact with even before they have joined your company? In doing so their interaction with your brand becomes one based around learning rather than merely a transaction of applying for a job whereby one person wins (and is hired) and everyone else, many of whom may be existing or future customers are left feeling like a reject (and ultimately negative about your employer brand.)
More than half of all graduates don’t feel like higher education has prepared them for the world of work. More than half of all employers agree. However you want to describe the current system of student and graduate employment – or lack thereof – one thing is clear: what we’re doing isn’t working. It’s time for a big, big change.
At Enternships.com we are developing a new ‘positive’ learning-based approach to recruitment where all candidates can benefit from the process of applying for a job irrespective of if they are hired. Through the process of acquiring new skills and insights from employers we want to convert those who would otherwise be dejected into advocates. We’re launching a new real-time employer led skills development platform later this year and invite employers big and small to join us in this movement and join our radical new approach to tackling youth unemployment and finding innovative approaches to meeting their talent needs.
We simply cannot maintain the status quo; an entire generation is depending on us to act now.